Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Good days

Good days are when the kids help me with the laundry. And Jazz folded their clothes, not bad for an amateur. Great job!

Neatly folded

And the best of the week was receiving Jareth's blanket in the mailbox. We left it in the hotel when we were in Anaheim. I emailed them and requested it to be mailed over. It was his bedtime buddy and that explained his expression when he opened his 'gift'. I had sleepless nights for his missing blanket. So glad that it's back.

I'll be mindful not to leave anything precious behind again...

I wonder how long good days last...

Happy boy!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Home school: Ordinal Number

Introduced ordinal numbers to Jazz yest. We've use them alot in our daily conversations, but to  teach her academically, I've not done so. I thought for some moments about how to bring my lesson across, when I saw her 'friends' lying around the floor. They became my lesson objects.

I printed numbers and words of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th. Exactly the number of 'friends' from her mickey mouse clubhouse toy. Then we determined where's first and last, far left or right. I put a toy table at the front, telling her that these friends are in a line to get their snacks. We need to queue. It was easy, she identified the first in line, as well as the last. Then I went on to introduce the characters in their positions.

Put labels beside the characters' position
I got her to retrieve the characters in the various positions and put them back to the positions I tasked her to. It was all fun. Like a game or what we always say, learning through play. Just go, "Which position is Mickey in?" "Can you put daisy 5th in line?"

It's also extremely important to pronounce and emphasize the 'th' in the words. Just so that these ordinal numbers are differentiated from the counting numbers.

Taking characters out of the mentioned position
Putting them back as tasked
It was all fun and great bonding for us too. After which, I got her to teach it Jare as a revision.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Caterpillar Craft

Did caterpillar craft with the kids last week. I've been keeping 'junks.' Whatever I think is suitable for art and craft, I'll keep it. Whether it's a cereal box, milk box, tins or containers, I'll recycle them for craft with the kids. My man shakes his head on these. Each time he sees an empty box or container, he'll trash it. So much so that I've to keep them out of his sight at times. 

And from my collected 'trash' box, I took out the carton egg holders to make 2 caterpillars. Extremely simple craft for the kids.

Materials:
  • Pipe cleaners
  • 2 row of carton egg holders
  • Colours for painting
  • Marker to draw features OR googly eyes if you have

1. Paint the carton egg holder.

All ready with 4 colours
Let creativity run
As much as possible, when it comes to art and craft, I'll try not to intervene. Leaving their pieces as authentic as they are. I like them to paint however they want, which ever ways and colours they have in mind. A caterpillar doesn't have to be green in a child's creative world. Although, I had green as one of the colour, I wanted to see if Jazz would rigidly paint her caterpillar green. 

Jazz painted different segments with different colours and Jare painted only the top
Love their 'serious at work' expressions
2. Leave the paint to dry. Then tie the pipe cleaners to the 'caterpillar' as their legs and draw on the eyes, nose and mouth.
The left belongs to Jazz and right is Jare's. Jazz drew the features for both.
Completed! Indeed very colourful caterpillars! I left to on the TV table as an embellishment. And within the next few days, these caterpillars disintegrated into small pieces because the kids tore it up! It seemed more fun to be tearing them than just admiring their accomplishments. Can't believe they destroyed their own creations. 

It was great fun working on the craft though.  

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Pumpkin Farm - Uesugi

It's Pumpkin season when the days are approaching Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pumpkins are indigenous to the western hemisphere and pumpkin farms are everywhere. This fruit is best planted in June and harvested in October. We missed the seeding month for our backyard, next year, perhaps. 

We visited the Uesugi Farms for harvest. It was more than a farm, it's a park with rides and activities for the little ones. The kids rode on the carousel, cow tractor and went through an enchanted hayride. Kids below 42" ride for free. It's 2 tickets for the 4 of us. 

Pumpkin patch is open
Nope, not garlic. It's a munchkin.
Huge real pumpkin
Cute little cow tractor ride
The land of Marigold!
There's something about the corn here, it's awesomely sweet and delicious. Jazz had one whole cob on her own. It wasn't enough and we went for a second buy.

Pumpkins for carving
The huge pumpkins are used mainly for carving. I walked away with a little sugar pie pumpkin, hoping to bake something out of it. These orange fruits have edible seeds and flesh that is highly nutritious! 

And there was something glorious about this 1.5 hours driving trip - I did the journey to the farm. Not too bad, getting better with the roads and left hand drive. 
 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Fire Station visit

Brought the kids to the fire station open house. We've never been to a Fire station open house in SG, and here, we visited one. There were activities for the kids, educational lesson on fire and free hotdogs, chips and cookies! We were thrilled because we got to sit in and picture with the fire engine, police car and coast guard boat. Our first times!

Fire Engine - Like those in picture books
No idea what truck this is
Sheriff
Interesting back window grill
Off to catch pirates
They had so much fun with this purple sand
Fire station visits can be meaningful and experiencing for the little ones. The kids had good fun with the trucks and helmets. 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Grass!

It finally rained! Nope, not experiencing drought, just happy to see rain because it's rare here. After a night shower, I see green grass in the backyard. Excited and happy!  

Before - The no rain days
After a night of rain
Can't believe I'm excited over grass, as if I'm a cow or goat, happy that there's food. I shall water feed the ground every other days to keep grass sprouting. I like seeing greens.

Friday, 12 October 2012

SAHM - Tough Job

I'm into the second month of my role as a Stay At Home Mum (SAHM). I've also realised this term has more definitions to me, SAHM with homeschooling kids or SAHM with schooling kids? It makes a whole lot of difference. The perceptions and attitudes of a SAHM makes every mum different. Being a mum with kids in school is so much more manageable to me. Should I say I'm fortunate or unfortunate that both kids are stuck with me 24/7? It really is a blessing to be spending time with them, but too much is just too much for me. I desire my private moments when both kids are away from me, be it for school or even a 10 minutes playtime with their Daddy. But nah, I'm with them ALL the time. I treasure their nap and bed time, but sometimes, it's not as blissful. Good days, they sleep well, bad days they wake up in the night for comfort. Where is rest and peace for the Mum?

Some days, I feel like throwing in the towel to surrender, I think I'm not cut for this. Yet who's there to take my role? I'm their only unique identity, their Mummy! And the man's wife. There's no turning back in this faraway land. My man suggests that we can send both kids to full day school, but hmm, cost is one issue, we are on single income now. And secondly, I'll be too free, feels just weird. Term me 'tai tai,' if that happens. I hope to bond the most out of the days here too. Yet, I'm not ruling out school option, for the social and peer learning skills. In fact, we did some school hunting and I would love sending them to half day school or even alternate days. The school that I've set my eyes on does not offer half day and offers only a price difference of USD40 between 5 and 3 full days. It's like, might as well max it! It really wasn't my initial idea to send them 5 full days, I want time with them too. It's a tough decision, and so school option is on hold.   

Yet, I need my sanity at times. Jazz often upsets me, and once I asked her, "Can you please tell me what should I do with you? You've been misbehaving and I've no idea what to do." She replied, "Hug me!" I really like her reply, it simply tells me in midst of all wrongdoings, she wants no discipline, but a hug.  But tell me, how to hug a child if she does something wrong intentionally! I told my man, there isn't a day the kids wouldn't get an earful from me. I'm at the top of my voice almost every other day. Anyone can say, "be patient, they are kids." I'm sure Mums in my boat know what a typical day is like.

I run a battle everyday, from morning breakfast to a quick turnover for lunch and then dinner with snacks and house works in between. Am I Mrs Incredible? And homeschool, is there time? I've been trying to take things easy and manage time well, but how to get easy with kids? I can't leave them to laze around or get glued onto the TV or ipad for too long. I want to have good activities with them and not taking the easy way out of throwing a pack of chips or cartoon all day long, just to keep them occupied. We buy them toys occasionally, as I prefer them on toys than TV. I'm extremely cool about them on TV, there are good channels and DVDs to watch and learn, but not all day long. I am pretty alright when it comes to buying toys too, it's what makes up childhood and there are great variety of educational toys. If we can afford, we will. I'm cool about chips, ice cream, chocolates and sweets, but very very minimal. Relocating for 18months is a flash for any grown ups, but to a child, it makes a huge difference. Every day is a milestone, I don't want to cruise by their days doing nothing, and before I start doing something, it's time over. Regret is the worst feeling ever.

Kids treats on the go
Treats on the go - Snickers and skittles are mine! M and M - Their favourite!
And this is how Jazz plays her with new cart
On ipad
Sponge painting
Bought an easel for their creation
Jare wants to outshine
I wish they co-play peacefully everyday
It's my personal motto to read them at least a book daily, except on days when we are on the run. I used to buy lots of books for them, but I've learned to make use of the library here since we visit it every week. Cost savings! Other good days, I can achieve more on crafts and homeschool. At the end of each day, I'm just happy if they gained some new learning. Be it a new vocab from the books, a new logic from the toy they played, a released creativity from the art they drew or painted, or even a new knowledge from their Disney junior channel or an ipad apps. Even playing bubbles in the playground or backyard taps on their mobile skills, I'm happy to achieve such days.

So much things, so little time. I need time for myself too, away from kids to google recipes, bake their breakfast and snacks, online shop and so many other hobbies! I google recipes because I'm not exactly a good cook, I want to introduce wide choices of food to the kids. The kids have huge appetite when it comes to Asian food, but when we're out to settle with food like macaroni cheese, quesadillas, pizza, taquitos, burittos and so much more, their tummy seemed to have shrink. And if they were to go to school with school's menu, their tummies will be in trouble.
My limited recipes of food, snacks and packed lunch. Thanks to Mummy Ang for recipe tips!

I salute SAHMs, they are all so amazing. I could have preferred to work, the time at work is my breather and what's more, I have financial independence. What a leap I took. I was even tempted to tell my man, we'll wait 18months for you in SG, with some visits in between. But well, no changes, no progress, we move as a family. I must be thankful for this opportunity.

There are good days and bad days, some days I get really mad with the squabbling and cranky kids, and the never ending chores. What's worse, carrying Jare in my arm or having him tug my legs while I cook. I seriously dislike that. It slows me down. Some nights just don't end early when I need to bake for their breakfast or prepare my man's lunch pack. I yearn to take power naps in the day, but sometimes, it's just difficult to even shut my eyes for rest. The mind doesn't stop thinking, it feels like I need to make use of their nap time for other stuffs. Sometimes, I just wana catch some movies on TV, many good shows here, but late nights means lazy mornings for me. And when the man's home, I thought life would be easier, but not, he needs time for his assignments, tests and quizzes. He needs a much more important space than me. I have a big baby to serve too. I shouldn't complain, because my reward is paid off in my shopping allowance and since I have more flexibility with the chores, it's easier to manage. If he offers to shower or send the kids to bed, it's bonus.

Domestic helpers are not a norm here, the best mums can get is a nanny or school care. I must agree if one can afford in SG, a helper can make parenting more manageable. Outsource the chores and it's more quality time with the kids. All worth it! Read me right, outsource the chores, not the kids. I can't emphasize how much important it is to bond with your kids, especially the early years. Treasure the years before they start drifting as they grow. They grow really fast!

And having sum up my thoughts, I think if I'm back to work, it could be a whole new opposing vision, how contradicting life is. For now, it's making good use of my days as a SAHM here, for bonding, learning or exploring, what matters most is staying positive and bright. Looking ahead.
 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Disneyland - Anaheim

We had a long weekend last week as Columbus Day fell on a Monday. And if you reside in US temporarily, every long weekend is about exploring and travelling to places around. This weekend, we travelled to Anaheim for Disneyland and Adventure Park. Needless to say, it's every kids love. Mine too! 

With another couple, we took a plane there. This spared us from the long hours of drive and gave us some rest on the plane and bus. Definitely more time for play too. The usual drive to Anaheim would be about 6 hours, excluding breaks, while a flight is only an hour. Only con of flight is liquid constraints and baggage limit, thankfully I didn't shop much. And if we drove, I sure have space to fill a car full of shopping loot back.

I was all so excited about visiting the parks, look who's the kid here. We got the annual passports which burnt a huge hole in my man's pocket. But we were very sure about being there again and again. At least, Jare's entrance is FOC. Visiting Anaheim well fits into any 3 or 4 consecutive days of long weekend here. 

Up-close with the plane which got the kids excited
It's my second time in Anahieim. Once when Jazz was in my tummy and the other, last weekend. Each visit, it's a must to have meals and cakes at The cheesecake factory. It is all so good! It was also that evening that my darling boy dropped my iphone, and left it a crack. Sigh!

The cheesecake factory
We spent a day in Disneyland and 1.5 days in Adventure Park. From morning till midnight! Parks closed at 12 am on the days we were there.

October is Halloween
Why is Eeyore    t not blue? As in cartoon!
Pumpkin patch boy
Kids meal
Packaged with applesauce and juice
We also met the International star at his home, Mickey! And I was the most excited of all. We were in a queue after viewing Mickey's house. It says we'll be meeting Mickey, which we've no idea is it in person or on screen, we have no idea what's up ahead. We see queue, we just queue! So when the door opened, we saw Mickey and I went crazy! 

With the star!
Tea party at Minnie's backyard
The parade
They were mesmerized!
These princesses caught Jareth's attention. He exclaimed real loud!
I love the parade and fireworks at Disneyland. Awesome! Next day, it was the Adventure Park,we met more Disney characters and visited the newly opened cars land. I've never introduced cars to Jazz, and she went lightning Mcqueen! Then she went on telling me about her friends who love cars. Peer influence is great.

Met chip and dale in Adventure Park
Under a huge tree
Goofy - The water conductor
With lightning Mcqueen
Night view of Adventure park
We re-visited Adventure Park on our day of departure, hoping to catch the Disney junior show which we missed. And sometimes I think Jazz is too much on TV, she knows more of this channel than me. Surely, I shouldn't be knowing much from the Disney junior channel. She knows shows like, Jake and the Never land pirate and her ever favourite, Mickey mouse clubhouse, as well as some other alien shows to me. She can go meeska mooska mickey mouse! Some secret passcode in the show. And mouseker tool? Whatever that is. But well, that's what childhood's all about. I'm glad she enjoyed and could identify with the show. It definitely is more fun to enjoy the parks with some characters the kids know. I am also trying to read them more story tales from Disney too.  
Mickey mouse clubhouse
Jake and the never land pirate
Then we played a game to see which Disney character we are similar too.

Jazz enjoys a wide variety of friends
I like her being most like Alice!
Mr and Mrs Incredibles
Disneyland is really amazing, even though we spent most time in lines for rides, we had great fun. The queues were either fast moving, such that you keep walking or you'll be always entertained at different points of the line, by displays or some other distractions. At the end of the day, all frustrations and exasperation from the wait simmers with the awesome parade and fireworks. After fireworks, great music is also played to help disperse the crowd in a rhythmic manner. The crowd swayed happily to their next venue or to the exit. It indeed is a happy place to be for anyone. It's also the only time I wished the kids wouldn't have to nap, just so they can have more fun, but they napped.    

And that ended our short vacation. It was a treat for the kids and myself, a time when I can break away from the daily household chores with no washing and cooking! It's all now back to reality, to our routines. Life will never be a bed of roses.